Maceo Parker – 5 Essential Tracks

Papa’s got a Brand New Bag
Peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag was James Brown’s highest charting single to date, and marked the first feature of Maceo Parker, introducing the world to the distinctive funky sound that would define the careers of both men. Ranked #72 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time, this song was the beginning of Brown’s musical triumph, “bringing a unique brand of southern black music to the forefront of American culture—without sanitizing it for a white public.” 

Released in 1970 following a mutiny by several members of James Brown’s band, Doing Their Own Thing was the first album by the newly formed “Maceo Parker & All the Kings Men.” The intro track entitled “Maceo” is a good sampling of the bluesy funk contained within the rest of the album. Surrounded in controversy, there are stories of the Godfather of Soul himself paying disk jockeys to noplay tracks from this release. 

Them What Got
Following his success with the James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic, Maceo forged ahead, stepping out in his own right and stretching out like never before. His first effort Roots Revisited, crafted in a familiar ‘60s R&B/soul sound solidified his status as one of the most innovative altoists of his time. Check out a cover of the Ray Charles tune “Them What Got” to see Maceo in his element. 


Maceo’s Groove
1998’s Funk Overload sees Maceo’s remarkable craftsmanship if full force, as he takes his experience with James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins to craft a funk sound both innovative and familiar at the same time. Staying true to his funky self, his distinctive playing is as unforgettable as ever, but with a fresh sound delivered by a mix of fellow legends and relative newcomers. This unique blend can really be heard on the track Maceo’s Groove. Listen for the interplay between Maceo’s sax and the rapping styles of his son Corey. 

Pass the Peas
Originally released by the J.B.’s (The name of James Brown’s band for a period of time in the 70s & 80s), Pass the Peas reached #29 on the R&B charts in 1972. Maceo later released a live recording in 1992, and in 2002 the song was a Maceo feature during his time on tour with Prince. While not available on record, the live track can be seen on Prince’s Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas DVD.